GEORGETOWN — The Kilgore Bulldogs returned to the state championship game after falling one round short in each of the previous two seasons.

But it came at a price.

Senior and four-year starter David Garcia exited with a gruesome lower leg injury midway through the first half, but his teammates picked up the slack by handling Houston Washington, 4-0, Wednesday evening in their Class 4A semifinal at Birkelbach Field.

“Obviously it’s gonna be hard losing him, he’s a very important part of this team," said Kilgore coach Austin Walker on losing Garcia.

Added sophomore and leading scorer Elian Torres: “We got emotional so quick because he’s a brother to all of us. But he talked to us and said we had to go out there and do our thing, that we could do it.”

Kilgore (20-5-2) will play for its second state soccer championship at 2:30 p.m. Friday against either Progreso or Bridgeport.

“It’s like a little monkey-off-your-back type thing," Walker said. "We’ve come here twice and haven’t quite got it to the second day. Now we get to the second day and hopefully we win on Friday and take the gold medal home.”

One minute following the Garcia injury, which stopped the game for about seven minutes, Kilgore got on the board with Raul Cedillo’s goal of an assist from Torres.

“He’s the one that wanted it the most so we had to do it for him," Cedillo said of Garcia. "Right after he went out I had to go out and do what I had to do.”

The Bulldogs held onto the 1-0 lead into halftime.

Torres added two more goals in the second half, and Yonatan Contreras had a goal an assist in Kilgore’s dominating win.

“We just had to get focused and get into it because we were nervous at first," Torres said. "But we managed to get over it and get on the board.”

Washington (12-3) did not learn it would compete at the state tournament until lunchtime Tuesday. Houston Wheatley, which defeated Washington in the regional finals on Saturday, was disqualified after using an ineligible player.

The lateness of the decision affected Washington’s preparation. The Eagles had not played or practiced until their loss over the weekend.

Kilgore’s play was unaffected, as it held a 10-2 edge in shots on goal and outshot Washington overall, 21-6.

“We didn’t really pay attention to it," Torres said. "We knew what we had, we knew what we were capable of.”

Bulldogs goalie Kaleb Jett only had to defend two shots, and came away with his first clean sheet since Kilgore’s bi-district win over Mineola.

-- Video by Greg Sherman, Special to

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